Control of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in the natural gas and petrochemical industries is going to be more complex than ever in the wake of a recent EPA settlement with a major oil company focused on flare operations. The implications of the this settlement and the VOC emissions study are sure to be far-reaching, likely reducing the use of flares as control devices and increasing the cost of operating flares, even in their traditional emergency role.
On April 5 EPA announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Marathon Petroleum Company (Marathon) regarding allegations of Clean Air Act violations at Marathon’s Texas City and Detroit refineries. EPA developed evidence showing that several of Marathon’s flares were not controlling VOC emissions sufficiently, resulting in excess emissions that had gone unreported. As a result, Marathon agreed to pay a $450,000 fine for Clean Air Act violations and to invest millions more to upgrade and improve flare operations at its refineries.